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David Baxter

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Symptoms of schizophrenia present years before disease onset
25 July 2007
Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2007; 61: 348-354

Patients with schizophrenia often present with non-specific and general symptoms, such as depressive, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms, years before the onset of schizophrenia, say Japanese researchers.

Early detection and treatment of schizophrenia is important because delays in treatment initiation after symptom onset can lessen the chances of remission, the team highlights.

Toshiki Shioiri and colleagues from Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences retrospectively studied 219 inpatients with schizophrenia, to examine the presence of unspecific early prodromal symptoms (EPS) and the time from their appearance to the onset of schizophrenia.

Overall, 53 (24.2%) patients had been diagnosed with other psychiatric conditions before schizophrenia onset. Thirty-nine patients were diagnosed with mood disorders, seven with OC disorder (OCD), two with adjustment disorder, and two with eating disorders.

EPS were present in 65 (29.7%) patients - depressive symptoms were the most common (61.5%), followed by anxiety (23.1%), and OC symptoms (9.2%).

The age at onset for OC symptoms was significantly lower (14.5 years) than that for the other symptoms (about 20 years).

Patients with depressive symptoms had the shortest period from symptom appearance to schizophrenia onset, at 2.7 years, whereas patients with OC symptoms had the longest period, at more than 4.0 years.

Shioiri et al. conclude in the journal Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences: "Non-specific and general symptoms are frequently present for some years before the onset of schizophrenia."

They add: "A prospective study is necessary to evaluate the types of EPS and their course until onset."

Abstract
 

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